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New test detects multiple sclerosis before symptoms appear

A new test for an antibody in people that have the potential for developing multiple sclerosis (MS) has been proven successful by Dr. Viola Biberacher with Technical University in Munich, Germany. The results were presented at the American Academy of Neurology website on Feb. 21, 2014.

Ben Affleck arrives at The National Multiple Sclerosis Society's 38th Annual Dinner Of Champions at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on September 24, 2012, in Los Angeles, California.
Valerie Macon/Getty Images

The researchers compared the blood levels of the antibody KIR4.1 in two small groups of patients. One group had the potential for developing MS and the other did not.

All of the healthy participants tested negative for KIR4.1 in their blood. Fifty-six percent of the participants that had KIR4.1 in their blood developed MS between two and nine months after the blood samples were initially taken.

The researchers examined the blood levels of KIR4.1 in those participants that developed MS and found the antibody could be detected as early as six years prior to the initiation of any symptoms of MS. The concentrations of KIR4.1 were found to increase over time in those people that eventually developed MS.

This is the first known test that can predict the potential to develop MS years before symptoms occur. An early detection of MS will allow higher rates of prevention and more effective treatment.

The researchers plan large population studies to replicate their findings.